Philosophy and Physics BSc

Year of entry

2024 course information

Open Days 2024

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UCAS code
FVH5
Start date
September 2025
Delivery type
On campus
Duration
3 years full time
Work placement
Optional
Study abroad
Optional
Typical A-level offer
AAB (specific subject requirements)
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB including Mathematics and Physics and pass Access to Leeds
Full entry requirements

Course overview

Stack of historic texts on desk

This joint honours degree considers fundamental aspects of the universe from different scientific and philosophical perspectives.

Compulsory modules introduce you to central ideas in philosophy about the nature of the physical world, how we acquire knowledge of the world, the philosophy of physics and the nature of science itself. It also explores key areas of physics such as classical and quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics, condensed matter, and how to carry out laboratory work.

You’ll also choose from a range of optional modules in both subjects which give you the chance to explore the philosophy of other scientific disciplines, metaphysics, epistemology, logic, the philosophy of maths, cosmology, bionanophysics, molecular simulation, or pursue more advanced study in key areas of physics in which you have developed an interest, so you can choose to specialise.

With the support of tutors in both subject areas, this degree will allow you to think in different ways about humanity’s place in the universe, understand the fundamentals of nature and the universe itself, as well as gain an impressively broad range of skills.

Specialist facilities

You'll have the benefit of the purpose-built Sir William Henry Bragg Building, where you'll have access to top-of-the-line laboratories and specialised teaching spaces, as well as the Bragg Centre where scientists and engineers work together to address global challenges in technology and society.

Course details

Year 1

You’ll study compulsory modules which will introduce you to key aspects of philosophy, from the nature of knowledge, the self and reality, to how to construct persuasive and coherent arguments. You’ll also have an exciting range of ‘taster’ modules designed to broaden your understanding of philosophy or delve into the history of science.

In physics, you'll gain knowledge across the fundamental areas including classical and quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and optics. These fundamental theories will be essential as you continue your journey through the world of physics.

From this foundation, you’ll build your knowledge and skills over the next two years through a broader range of study, combining compulsory and optional modules curated for the course, with the opportunity to specialise in your final year and focus on whichever areas interest you.

Year 2

You’ll take a module on philosophical method designed specifically for joint honours students. You’ll learn how the study of philosophy connects with and enhances the study of physics, and you’ll further develop your philosophical skills. You'll also take a module in the Philosophy of Science.

Optional modules allow you to develop your philosophical interests in other topics. You'll continue to develop your theoretical knowledge of fundamental physics including electromagnetism and condensed matter, and you'll have the opportunity to develop your practical skills in a laboratory-based module.

Year 3

You’ll take a module in the Philosophy of Physics and will have the opportunity to extend your understanding of philosophy into other areas. In physics, you can undertake advanced study of topics you’ve studied previously or extend your knowledge into new areas such as cosmology or bionanotechnology.

Throughout the degree you’ll build an impressive breadth of subject knowledge, and develop qualitative, quantitative and analytical research skills. In your final year you’ll have the chance to showcase these skills, when you focus on a subject of your choice to undertake a research project in either of your subjects.

You’ll have the opportunity for genuine research-led teaching throughout the degree, and especially at upper levels. Some of the upper-level modules are currently in the process of revision, but the list below will give you a flavour of what will be available on this course. 

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Philosophy and Physics BSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 - Compulsory Modules in Physics

1st Year Physics (30 credits)
This module, designed for joint honours students, provides you with core knowledge and skills in physics, and how to apply them to solve problems across the fundamental areas including thermodynamics, solid state and mechanics, and key mathematical knowledge and skills required for the study of physics.

1st Year Experimental and Computational Physics (JH) (30 credits)
This is a bespoke module for the joint honours course, which introduces you to experimental and computational techniques and data analysis in the study of physics.

Compulsory Modules in Philosophy

How to do Philosophy (20 credits)
This introductory module offers you a foundation in some of the formal and informal reasoning skills used in philosophy.

Knowledge, Self and Reality (20 credits)
This module introduces you to central issues in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics which concern the self and its relationship to the rest of the world.

Optional Modules in Philosophy (selection of typical options shown below):

  • Philosophy Meets the World (10 credits)
  • Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (10 credits)
  • How Science Works (10 credits)
  • Magic, Science and Religion (10 credits)
  • Introduction to the History of Science (10 credits)

Year 2 Compulsory Modules

Philosophical Method (for Joint Honours) (20 credits)
This module builds on the year 1 module, How to Do Philosophy, and further develops your philosophical skills to analyse and construct arguments, your ability to identify a philosophical issue or problem, and apply that understanding to your other joint honours subject, to develop your understanding of how your two subjects relate to each other.

Why Trust Science? Topics in Philosophy of Science (20 credits)
This module explores themes, debates and ideas in science philosophy in the context of recent controversies about the role of science in society.

2nd Year Physics: Quantum and Particle (20 credits)
This module builds on the core 1st year module to develop your knowledge of quantum and particle physics.

2nd Year Physics: Statistical Mechanics & Condensed Matter (20 credits)
This module builds on the core 1st year module to develop your knowledge of statistical mechanics and condensed matter.

Optional module in Physics:

Experimental Physics

This module is a prerequisite for students who wish to take their final year project in Physics. It builds on the 1st year module on experimental and computational physics to develop your experience in performing laboratory experiments in core physics, obtaining useful data and drawing conclusions, the use of statistical and systematic error analysis, and critical analysis of data.

Optional modules in Philosophy (selection of typical options shown below):

  • How Do You Know? Topics in Epistemology (20 credits)
  • Reality Check: Topics in Metaphysics (20 credits)
  • Universal Science: Topics in Formal Logic (20 credits)
  • God, Thought and The World: Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20 credits)

Year 3 compulsory modules

Final Year Project in either Physics or Philosophy (40 credits) - This final year project option allows you the freedom to design and carry out a piece of extended independent research with the individualised support of a supervisor with research expertise in your chosen area.

Philosophy of Modern Physics (20 credits) - This module provides you with a critical understanding of the development of modern physics and its leading philosophical problems. For example, the nature of space time, whether the world consists only of physical objects standing in certain spatial and temporal relations to one another, and whether can we reconcile quantum indeterminacy and holism with the determinate and particular features of the world we observe.

Optional modules in areas of Philosophy (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Philosophical Issues in Technology (20 credits)
  • Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics (20 credits)
  • Philosophy of Biology (20 credits)
  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences (20 credits)
  • Feminist Philosophy (20 credits)
  • Philosophy of Language (20 credits)
  • Philosophy of sex and Relationships (20 credits)

Optional modules in areas of Physics (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Advanced Topics (40 credits) Students choose three topics from a selection that typically includes Quantum Matter, Quantum Physics, Mechanics, Star & Planet Formation, Bio-nanophysics, Optics
  • Computational Simulations (20 credits)
  • Magnetism in Condensed Matter (20 credits)
  • Quantum Photonics (20 credits)
  • Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics (20 credits)
  • Group Innovation Project (20 credits)

Discovery modules

Throughout your degree you will benefit from a range of opportunities to expand your intellectual horizons outside or within your subject area. This course gives you the opportunity to choose from a range of discovery modules. They’re a great way to tailor your study around your interests or career aspirations and help you stand out from the crowd when you graduate. Find out more about discovery modules on our Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science and the School of Physics and Astronomy are both home to tutors at the forefront of research in their fields.

We use a range of teaching methods to help you benefit from their expertise including lectures, seminars and tutorials, or occasionally workshops. Lab classes and project work are also major elements of physics modules. However, independent study is central to this degree, since it allows you to develop your skills in research and analysis while giving you space to form your own ideas.

Academic staff have bookable office hours for advice and feedback, and you’ll also benefit from working closely with them during one-to-one supervision sessions and our personal tutoring scheme.

There's extensive support for students offered through the academic skills programme at the University Library. We provide resources to improve your skills in essay writing, exam technique, presentations and research.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.

Assessment

We use many different types of assessment including essays, exams, group work, oral presentations and practical work. At the upper levels, assessments may be student-led, with students selecting their own essay questions or designing their own independent research project.

You'll typically be able to complete and gain ‘feed-forward’ on an ungraded formative exercise during a module, that serves as a stepping-stone towards your final graded assessment for the module.

There will also be support on hand. For example, our Library Skills Team provides exam skills training, and we provide subject-specific advice on writing essays. Your teaching staff will be available throughout term-time to talk to you one-on-one about how to get the most out of your assessments. New students will have a suite of study skills modules to help with the transition to University teaching and assessment.

Assessment is not just a way of testing you, but a key way to consolidate your learning on the degree. We design our assessments to reflect the most valuable skills our subjects can teach you, which will help you excel in your future lives and careers. You'll learn how to interpret both quantitative and qualitative data, develop good analytical, reasoning and research skills, and the ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB to include Mathematics and Physics

Other course specific tests:

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be ABB at A Level including Mathematics and Physics and grade A in the EPQ.

We welcome applications from mature students with Access qualifications, and from students with a wide range of qualifications.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may also be required. This course has additional subject specific requirements. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

BTEC

We will consider the level 3 QCF BTEC at Subsidiary Diploma level and above in combination with other qualifications. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M2 including Mathematics and Physics

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall with 16 at Higher Level including 6 in Physics at Higher Level and 6 in Mathematics at Higher Level

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3 including Mathematics and Physics

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

Scottish Highers accepted in combination with Advanced Highers. Contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 80% including 8.0 in Mathematics and Physics

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Interdisciplinary Science with Foundation Year.

Studies in Science with Foundation Year

This extended degree is a science conversion course designed for high-achieving students who wish to progress to a degree in a scientific discipline but haven’t taken the prerequisite science and mathematics subjects at A-level.

You’ll receive an intensive introduction to the academic and life skills, qualities and techniques that are necessary for success as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) undergraduates. Find out more about the Studies in Science with Foundation Year.

International

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science Undergraduate Admissions team.

You can find out more about what it is like to be an international student by speaking to a Link to Leeds ambassador. They can’t help you with your application, but they can tell you how they have found living and studying in Leeds.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.


Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

Fees

UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

Students may be required to purchase core texts for some modules, but our policy is to provide as much as we can through the Library and as online texts available to all students.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

Applying

Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science
School of Physics and Astronomy

Contact us

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures Admissions

Email: artsadmissions@leeds.ac.uk
Telephone:

Career opportunities

A joint honours degree in Philosophy and Physics will equip you with a wide range of skills and subject knowledge which are highly attractive to employers.

You’ll have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills and be able to interpret complex quantitative and qualitative data. You’ll be confident working independently or in a team and have good research skills. In addition, you’ll be able to communicate and defend your views clearly, both verbally and in writing – and you’ll have the organisational skills needed to manage two very different subjects.

Graduates have gone on to succeed in a range of careers that reflect the diversity of this degree. This includes: science, education, business and finance, law, sales and marketing, the media, the civil service and charity sector. Many have also progressed to postgraduate study.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. We have over 300 University partners worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

Study abroad

All University of Leeds students can apply to spend a year studying abroad. It’s a great way to gain an insight into another culture, as well as gaining valuable experience that will look great on your CV.

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science also has exclusive exchange links with universities in Denmark, France and Spain – language classes are available before you go to prepare you for the experience.

Read more about Study abroad in Philosophy, Religion and History of Science

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Student profile: Otto Lyons

My course seemed to offer a combination of things that I had both studied and wanted to understand further, as well as a range of interesting topics I had never considered.
Find out more about Otto Lyons's time at Leeds